2nd Lead (Adds audio link)

Karuna feared expulsion, avoided direct contact - Ramesh

[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 March 2004, 21:04 GMT]
In an interview from Vanni to the UK-based International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Radio, Col.Ramesh, the new Special Commander of the Liberation Tigers for Batticaloa-Ampara, said that Karuna took the unilateral decision to split on his own ignoring the advices of several senior commanders and administrateive heads.

External Link:
Real Audio IconIBC interview with Col.Ramesh (Tamil)
Excerpts of the translation of the interview given in Tamil follow:

IBC: The current situation in Batticaloa is an unwanted setback to the Tamil national struggle. How do you view the crisis?
Ramesh: We have a problem in Batticaloa-Amparai that is created by a single individual. Karuna was working as the Senior Karuna, inorder to hide his own problem with the movement, has orchestrated this crisis using the people and fighters as pawns. He did not consult his senior commanders or the people of Batticaloa-Amparai beforeannouncing his decision to split. He did not make any effort to attempt to resolve his disputes directly with our national leader.

Many other senior commanders and administrators of the Batticaloa-Amparai LTTE, Ram, Praba, Kausalyan, Karikalan, Vaman and others all discussed the problem Karuna faced and offered our help to raise that with our national leader. He refused to accept our advice and continued to defy orders from the LTTE leadership. He feared to accept possible disciplinary action from the LTTE leadership.

Now he is using emotional rhetoric to create divisions on regional lines. He has embarked on a most treacherous and contemptible exercise of spreading false propaganda to fool the people of Batticaloa Amparai.

His actions were reviewed by our leader who decided to remove Karuna from the movement and stripped him of his responsibilities.

IBC: Can you explain to us why Karuna did not attempt to discuss matters with the LTTE leader directly?
Ramesh: Karuna feared that the problem he had with the movement will result in his being expelled from the movement. You are all aware that LTTE is a highly disciplined movement with a strict code of conduct. After the initial training when we join the movement we take oath to adhere to the movement's rules. No one is exempted. In brief, although I have not disclosed his specific charge, it is a grievous mistake ignoring the call to meet with our leader.

IBC: Did you not take any effort to resolve this dispute amicably for the benefit of the Tamil National struggle?
Ramesh: People of Batticaloa-Amparai made immense contribution to the Tamil struggle. They have enormous faith in our leader [Pirapaharan]. The people and the fighting cadres repeatedly intimated to us that we should take all efforts to resolve this crisis amicably. We promised them that we will meet with our leader and discuss ways to defuse the crisis.

Our leader has given us strict instructions that no harm should befall our people and our fighters in the Batticaloa- Amparai district in dealing with Karuna’s problem. Although Karuna is engaging in spreading false propaganda and evoking emotional, divisional issues, people understand and are beginning to distance themselves from Karuna.

IBC: As the newly appointed Special Commander for Batticaloa-Amparai, how are you going to handle this crisis?
Ramesh: We approaching this crisis as a problem created by a single individual. Any disciplinary action or punishment should only be meted out to that individual. No innocent people or fighters should be affected. We have devised plans to do this very carefully and with great caution. We have already started to implement these plans. We intend to go back and begin work soon.

IBC: Batticaloa-Amparai people has made priceless sacrifice to the Tamil struggle. Does not Karuna's action an affront to the people?
Ramesh: We are informing the details of the issues to the people of Batticaloa-Amparai. More and more people are realizing that this debilitating crisis is brought about by the immoral actions of one individual. As area commanders we know our people intimately and we are certain that they will not blame the movement nor its leader for the present crisis. We were living as a family. People of Batticaloa-Amparai have great faith in the ability of and affection for the LTTE leader.

IBC: Leaflets have been distributed detailing different accusations. What can you comment on those?
Ramesh: Tamil Eelam administrative divisions did not have sufficient Batticaloa representation. This is untrue. There are many sections in our organization and our important office is the Head office which administers all other sections. Mr. Puthiyavan leads this head office. It is important to note that he is from Batticaloa. Not only that, and you are all aware that Karuna is a central committee member and he was functioning next to our leader.

Even if Karuna has genuinely felt that his people were ignored in appointments to leadership position he should have attempted to raise the issues directly to the national leader and should have sought to resolve the matter through discussions first.

IBC: What do you want tell the Tamil diaspora?
Ramesh: We will work to further strengthen the hands of our leader. We We will work to unite the people in Batticaloa-Amparai to make our movement and our fighters stronger. We will not be disturbed by the current crisis and work with determination to take forward Tamil National struggle.

IBC: Western agencies report that the Batticaloa crisis will gravely impact the peace process. What is your view?
Ramesh: I believe we will be able to solve this crisis within a short period.

IBC: Finally, how do you think the Tamil people should approach the forthcoming elections.
Ramesh: Our leader has unequivocally directed all of us to uphold democratic principles. All Tamil people should work to obtain a significant international victory. The current crisis will only be a temporary setback and should not impact the elections.


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